Zubizarreta slams selfish Ibrahimovic

»Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has criticised the club's former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, saying the Swede was too selfish to fit in to the La Liga champions' playing style.

Ibrahimovic's relationship with Barca coach Pep Guardiola broke down last season and he left after only one year to join AC Milan, city rivals of his former club Inter.

"If you see football in terms of individuals, or individual actions, Ibrahimovic belongs on that list," former Barca and Spain goalkeeper Zubizarreta told the club's TV channel.

"He is an extraordinary footballer but when I said the 'Ibra case' was a soccer issue it was because on the pitch you don't just play with the ball but also when you don't have the ball," he added. "You have to give your team mates options and there is also a great deal of tactical work to do. "And you have to be able to do both things very well: your own individual play but also your role within the team."

Rio police kicks off hooligan clean-up plan

»Rio police arrested 13 suspected soccer hooligans on Wednesday at the start of a campaign to eradicate fan violence from the game before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

An English-named "Operation Hooligans" was launched involving 160 officers in Rio and neighbouring towns seeking 19 suspects accused of homicide, carrying illegal weapons and forming gangs, a police chief said.

"The police will act in a very firm way from now on, until the big events that will be held in Rio de Janeiro, to fight these outcasts infiltrated into organised groups of fans," Allan Turnowski, chief of Rio's police force, told reporters.

Rio is also hosting the 2016 Olympic Games. Operation Hooligans began its research five months ago after a fan of first division club Vasco da Gama was shot dead and three others injured in Sao Gonzalo in Rio state.

Police believe the supporters were targeted by fans of rival team Flamengo, the reigning Brazilian champions.

Zidane named Qatar's WC bid ambassador

»Former France midfielder Zinedine Zidane has been appointed ambassador for Qatar's attempt to host the 2022 World Cup, said the Gulf Arab state's bid committee.

Qatar's bid is one of nine for the finals but their main opposition is likely to come from Australia, Japan, South Korea and United States. "Football is for everyone," Zidane said in a statement. "When I think of all the youth of the Middle East, what they're missing is an event like the World Cup. "We had (the 2010 World Cup) in Africa and now it is time for the Middle East."

It is almost certain one of the four European bids from England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands will win the right to stage the 2018 World Cup, meaning a country from outside Europe will stage the 2022 finals.

Qatar would be the smallest host country since Uruguay held the inaugural tournament in 1930.

Neymar apologises for his Santos rants

»Impetuous Santos prodigy Neymar has apologised for acts of indiscipline that have marred the meteoric rise to fame he has enjoyed in just a few months, which includes being courted by Chelsea and playing for Brazil.

The gifted 18-year-old forward, who turned down a 20 million euro move to Chelsea and made his Brazil debut in August, had been in danger of spoiling his image as a smiling, carefree youngster brimming with talent on the pitch and relaxed off it. Last Sunday, he sparked a free-for-all at the end of Santos' 2-1 away loss to Ceara after berating a rival defender for his rough marking. Police had to separate the players. He also chastised captain Edu Dracena and coach Dorival Junior after Edu chose another player to take a penalty in Santos' 4-2 home win over Atletico Goianiense.  Fined by Santos and criticised publicly by his team mates after his heated exchange with Edu and Dorival, he made an emotional statement on Thursday to try to erase the bad impression. "I'm here to say more than sorry and (I expect) no pardon. I got home and saw what I'd done," Neymar said while holding back tears.

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